Ashten Whited wrote a perceptive piece last weekend on the possibility that our political decline is too slow for millennials to perceive. Why?
“Everyone will be too dumbed down by then to realize what happened.”
She writes, “[Ignorant Americans] divest themselves of their civic duty through apathy, a sense of powerlessness, or a misplaced trust in government. The most pernicious slide down is so gradual many fail to realize it is happening, dulled with the complacency of material well-being.”
I have no contention with Ashten’s thesis. Time alone can truly test it. I have one brief addendum, stemming from an anecdote included in the piece:
By the time we were close to the restaurant, Backseat Friend said, “Wow, you just broke that down so that I understood it really clearly. I hear people talk about that kind of thing, but it’s always over my head and I’m like, whatever.”
“Yeah,” Driver Friend agreed. “I don’t usually pay attention to politics,” she said.
“I don’t care about politics at all,” agreed Backseat Friend. “Sign me up for the Ashten Newsletter though, that was great. I can learn something new every day.”
In this story is found the antidote to at least some of the apathy that exists in today’s America: simple, rational and friendly discussion of politics and current events from those of us who are engaged to those among our friends, coworkers and acquaintances who are not. In this way, we can reach a portion of those whose needs are unfilled by vast majority of options for political opinion and current events reporting.
Those who put things simply enough are or appear too polemical, too aggressive, too divisive and too biased. Those who hover above it all in non-partisan aloofness delight in making politics appear too complex for the so-called “Average Joe” because it makes them feel elite.
What would better roll back the cynicism pervading and effecting the low-information inclination creeping through the nation than genuine and personal concern for real people and how politics really affects them? The politization of everything is the dehumanization of politics.
We have it in our hands to take a different route. As Ashten proved, the apathetic American can find politics interesting, if it is put to him right. Otherwise, he only witnesses politics according to the state: a faceless, sterile kind, in which he is simply a cog in a narrative machine.
Conservatives reject this view of the American people, so let’s talk politics like it.
I just have one question: when is the Ashten Newsletter debuting?